Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap to Boost Prospects for Underprivileged Youth

On Saturday, 3 February, the inaugural cohort of the 2023 Mido Cyber Academy celebrated their graduation alongside parents, sponsors and supporters. Launched in 2023 through a partnership between the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), KnowBe4 Africa and MiDO Technologies, the Mido Cybersecurity Academy provides an intern readiness programme targeting disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

“The FCDO aims to address the continent’s cyber skills shortage through its Africa Cyber Programme, which seeks to expand digital access, bring excluded groups into the digital economy, reduce poverty and drive inclusive economic growth in South Africa,” said Victoria White, First Secretary for Cyber Affairs at the British High Commission in South Africa.

Additional backers include Nclose, Infosec Advisory Group, Cybereason and Infosec Institute (Cengage), as well as Stellenbosch University, Rain, The David Legacy, Orange Cyberdefense, Usiko Stellenbosch and numerous individual cybersecurity experts in South Africa and abroad. KPMG provides project management support for the programme.

“By emphasising cybersecurity, critical thinking, soft skills, innovation, teamwork and personal resilience, we strive to bridge divides in digital and cyber capabilities between job seekers and entry-level positions or internships in the IT and cybersecurity field, tackling high youth unemployment and skills gaps in emerging technologies,” said Dale Simons, CEO of MiDO Technologies.

The 10-month academy blends e-learning, in-person teaching, resilience training, life skills, industry exposure and mentoring. It targets 18-24-year-olds, with cohort sizes up to 21 students, stressing real-world projects, job placements and workforce integration.

Through masterclasses and hands-on work mirroring professional challenges, students engage with senior security specialists, building networks and meeting potential employers. So far, two graduates have secured internships with Mobius Binary, with the aim of placing all 21 students.

“The challenge is not a ‘talent shortage’ but an ‘experience shortage’. We urge local and international tech teams to provide opportunities through real projects and challenges. Cybersecurity demands lifelong learning, and their journey has only just begun. It’s up to us to give them the right experiences,” said Anna Collard, SVP of Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa.

“I saw myself as someone with no passion, going from job to job. The academy has brought growth and purpose – I’ve become more confident,” said graduate Thurston Goldstein.

Read next: New KnowBe4 report reveals spike in public sector cyber attacks



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